The Georgia drifter charged with the beating death of a young woman who went hiking in the North Georgia mountains on New Year's Day pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to life.
Gary Michael Hilton, 61, made a deal with Georgia prosecutors to avoid the death penalty by leading them to the body of 24–year–old Meredith Emerson.
Hilton abducted and killed the Colorado native. An autopsy report says 24–year–old Emerson was beaten to death three days after her disappearance. Her body was found nearly 50 miles from where she vanished, and she had been decapitated.
During the sentencing Emerson's parents addressed the court. "I feel that no punishment is too severe for Mr. Hilton. I only pray that he suffers immensely for his heinous acts and that even his fellow inmates recognize his evil and malevolence for mankind and treat him with appropriate measures," said David Emerson.
Investigators in North Carolina and Florida also have looked at Hilton to see if he was involved in killings in those states.